Ocean alkalinity enhancement R&D program & survey

A philanthropic consortium, led by Additional Ventures, is proud to launch the Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) R&D Program, an ambitious effort to accelerate understanding of OAE as a potential method for large-scale carbon dioxide removal (CDR).

Why Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that even aggressive mitigation measures to  reduce CO2 emissions will have to be complemented with carbon dioxide removal (CDR) on the order of 100–1000 billion tons of CO2 before the end of the 21st century to avert the worst consequences of climate change.

The ocean already contains 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere and has an enormous capacity to permanently sequester more. As ocean-based CO2 removal has attracted more interest, OAE has emerged as a particularly intriguing approach. When alkalinity increases in seawater, dissolved CO2 is chemically transformed to bicarbonate and carbonate ions. This transformation can help de-acidify seawater, turning the chemical clock of the ocean back to pre-industrial times. OAE can, at least on paper, sequester billions tons of CO2 annually for tens or even hundreds of thousands of years, imitating geologic weathering processes that have sequestered trillions of tons of atmospheric CO2 in the ocean over millennia.

In late 2021, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Mathematics (NASEM) released a study on ocean-based CDR approaches. In this consensus report, OAE stands out as a potentially efficient and highly scalable CDR pathway that permanently sequesters CO2.

The Promise of Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement

Ocean alkalinity enhancement is a particularly promising ocean CDR approach. Below is a visual representation of key quantitative and qualitative results summarized by NASEM (2021, Table S.1 therein). Note that some of the most cost-effective and scalable “electrochemical processes” described in NASEM (2021) increase the alkalinity of seawater, and/or force the precipitation of solid alkaline materials that can be used for OAE. Our definition of OAE encompasses these electrochemical approaches.

Survey on ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) recruitment needs

Additional Ventures, a new science funder in the field of ocean CDR, is interested in understanding how to recruit the best scientific talent to ocean CDR research. Please take this super-short, checkmark-style survey about your experience on this topic – you do not have to be already active in ocean CDR to take the survey.

Take the survey here (2 min. max & anonymous by default)

We aim to collect responses from a range of stakeholders, disciplines, and career stages.

Thank you so much for your time and support of this effort!

Additional Ventures, 3 May 2022. Full article.

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